By Neil Leverett
- Round Seven of the Formula 1 season rolls into Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend
- Britain’s Lewis Hamilton holds 17-point Championship lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas after Monaco win
- Ferrari desperate for North American show after Monageque woe
MONTREAL, CANADA – As Formula 1 rolls into Canada for Round Seven of the season, will more Montreal madness put a spanner in Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ works this weekend?
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Montreal next up for Mercedes’ monopoly
Round Seven of the Formula 1 2019 season rolls Montreal this weekend, as the setting once again for one of the campaign’s most unpredictable and chaotic races of the year, the Canadian Grand Prix.
Following a second consecutive win for the five-time and reigning World champion Lewis Hamilton in Monaco a fortnight ago, McLaren-Mercedes’ vice-like grip on proceedings this year showed little sign of abating, as F1 makes the trip from Europe to North America.
After six races this season, Mercedes kept up their remarkable 100% win domination in Monte Carlo last month, and despite Sebastian Vettel finally being able to prevent a sixth-successive 1-2 finish in the principality, there remains a sizeable gap to be bridged still.
Last time out however did reveal a slight chink in the armour however, and had Max Verstappen got the better of a pit-lane battle with Valtteri Bottas, Monaco could have seen a different victor. So will Montreal continue to see a change of winds in the title picture?
Ferrari’s Monaco woes
Whilst Vettel may indeed have sandwiched himself between Mercedes teammates in finishing on the second pot on the podium in Monaco, the Prancing Horse’s weekend in the millionaire’s playground was soured after Charles Leclerc‘s nightmare showing in front of his own Monageque fans.
On a weekend where little went right for Leclerc, the 21-year-old was a victim of his own team – yet again, albeit inadvertently – failing to get of Q1 on the Saturday, after being held back in the pits, as it was ironically Vettel who bumped his number two into the bottom five, as the German avoided a shock elimination by sneaking through in 15th spot.
Having been denied the chance to potentially go for the win 24 hours later, Leclerc found himself strangled down the field and after being collateral in a collision between Robert Kubica, Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris early on, the Monagesque driver’s weekend was roundly surmised by a 16th-lap retirement.
Vettel’s second-placed finished still leaves the four-time champion a mammoth 55 points off Hamilton, but after Ferrari dominated practice and the Briton suffered a rare blip in crashing on Friday, will the Italian manufacturer make a statement this weekend, or will it again be a case of false dawns?
Few rounds on the calendar bring about more fascination and excitement than the Canadian Grand Prix, and after a veritable procession up to this point this year, Montreal is needed to inject some much-needed swerve into both title and constructors’ championship pictures.
In the past, the 70-lap, 4.361 km distance of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve have thrown up four different winners of the race in the last eight years, of which Ferrari hold most wins during the race’s history – indeed it was Vettel who stood on the top step of the podium 12 months ago.
Montreal’s sheer unpredictability was underlined in 2011, in what was not only one of the great Canadian Grand Prix’s, but surely one of the most dramatic and chaotic in the history of Formula 1.
In became the longest ever F1 race to date – after rainstorms delayed the race for hours – Jenson Button stormed through the field from last place after the restart on lap 41, catching leader Vettel by passing the-then Red Bull driver as Briton took a stunning victory.
Weather is unlikely to shape proceedings this weekend with temperatures in the high 20’s forecast, but the layout and windy track will always throw up the uncertain and this weekend will likely be the same.
The 2019 Canadian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, with the race on Sunday at 6.10 pm UK time
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